Atchison retires from museum

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bonnie Atchison, right, recently retired as the curator of the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington, one of Shelby County’s finest treasures. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

Bonnie Atchison has experienced many chapters in her life: daughter, wife, mother, young widow, teacher, second bride, grandmother, Baptist volunteer, Novella clubwomen, Chamber executive director, great-grandmother and museum curator.

Atchison recently retired as the curator of the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington, one of Shelby County’s finest treasures with the largest collection of Washington memorabilia outside of Mt. Vernon.

The basis of the collection came from the sixth generation granddaughter of Martha Washington, Charlotte Smith Weaver of Chelsea.

Atchison grew up in Remlap, the daughter of Horace and Ruth Loftis. After graduating from Blount County High School, Bonnie married Lewis Mason and had two children.

Six months after graduating from Samford University while pastoring at Locust Fork Baptist Church, Lewis died of a massive heart attack at age 35.

Atchison worked and raised her beloved sons, ages 16 and 8 at Lewis’s death. After 10 years alone, Lewis’s sister and husband played matchmaker and asked Atchison to go on a date with their friend, a widower with a son. Love came a second time. Bonnie and Harry Atchison married March 8, 1976, and started their blended family with sons Mike, Tim and Randy. The Atchisons moved to Harry’s hometown, Columbiana.

Atchison began a life of commitment to her new community. She taught English and speech at Shelby County High School.

After teaching, Atchison became the first executive director of the South Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, Atchison left the Chamber and became curator of the Washington Museum.

“Working at the museum has given me an insight in where our nation came from,” Atchison said. “We see the trials and tribulations of our forefathers, who beat all odds against them during the American Revolution. In doing, they have shown us the way to continue to overcome the odds that face us in the 21st century.”

Come explore America’s early roots. The museum is open Monday–Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 50 Lester Street. An appointment is requested for large groups. Call Director Sherry Harrison at 669-8767,

Phoebe Donald Robinson can be reached by email at

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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